Israel was excluded from this week’s Gaza rehabilitation donor conference in Cairo because the participating countries did not want the Jewish state represented there, Egypt’s foreign minister said Wednesday.
Egypt accepted the position because its main concern was the success of the conference, Sameh Shukri said in an interview with Egyptian media, according to Israeli news site Ynet. He added that the US did not push for Israel’s inclusion.
International envoys pledged about $5.4 billion in aid at Sunday’s meeting. Half of the pledges will go for reconstruction and the rest as unspecified aid to the Palestinians, he said.
The first trucks with building supplies entered the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning as reconstruction efforts commenced under joint United Nations-Palestinian Authority supervision.
Despite Israel’s exclusion from the conference, the US has said that Israel will have to play a role in Gaza’s reconstruction, and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said shortly after the conference that rebuilding efforts would not be able to go forward without Israel’s consent.
Israel has insisted on guarantees that international aid will not be diverted to military ends by the Islamist movement Hamas, against which it fought a devastating 50-day war in July and August.
For his part, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pledged transparency in the way the funds will be used, “in full coordination with UN agencies, donor countries and international financial institutions.”